Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Population-level effects of egg predation on a native planktivore in a large freshwater lake

October 1, 2014

Using a 37-year recruitment time series, we uncovered a field pattern revealing a strong, inverse relationship between bloater Coregonus hoyi recruitment success and slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus biomass in Lake Michigan (United States), one of the largest freshwater lakes of the world. Given that slimy sculpins (and deepwater sculpin Myoxocephalus thompsonii) are known egg predators that spatiotemporally overlap with incubating bloater eggs, we used recently published data on sculpin diets and daily ration to model annual bloater egg consumption by sculpins for the 1973–2010 year-classes. Although several strong year-classes were produced in the late 1980s when the proportion of eggs consumed by slimy sculpins was extremely low (i.e., <0.001) and several weak year-classes were produced when the proportion of bloater eggs consumed was at its highest (i.e., >0.10–1.0), egg predation failed to explain why recruitment was weak for the 1995–2005 year-classes when the proportion consumed was also low (i.e., <0.02). We concluded that egg predation by slimy and deepwater sculpins could have limited bloater recruitment in some years, but that some undetermined factor was more important in many other years. Given that slimy sculpin densities are influenced by piscivorous lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, the restoration of which in Lake Michigan has lagged behind those in lakes Superior and Huron, our study highlights the importance of an ecosystem perspective when considering population dynamics of fishes.

Publication Year 2014
Title Population-level effects of egg predation on a native planktivore in a large freshwater lake
DOI 10.1111/eff.12112
Authors David B. Bunnell, Justin G. Mychek-Londer, Charles P. Madenjian
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Index ID 70160094
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center